How do we get ourselves into these things? Okay, never mind that. How do we get ourselves OUT?
To a large degree, we’re redfish rookies, Bill and I, but enthusiastic ones. So when we saw two of the state’s best puppy drum guides scoot by us, five minutes apart, out on the vast network of salt flats and creeks that we'd decided to explore for the day, we congratulated ourselves on our ability to sniff out prime fishing habitat. But while we were busy stretching our casting arms by patting ourselves on the back, we should have been considering the fact that Lee and Seth, both, were headed in the other direction.
And so was the tide.
Now, despite all evidence to the contrary, we’re not completely clueless. We knew it was dropping. But we also felt comfortable that the main channels through these particular flats would hold up for a few more casts before things bottomed out and that Bill’s nineteen-foot Carolina Skiff would see us through some pretty skinny spots. We were right. Almost.
|It's all this guy's fault|
After what turned out to be one fish too many, we stowed the rods and successfully squeezed out of the creeks only to find that their northern egress into the intercoastal was shallower than the creek channels themselves. Our exit was blocked. We turned to try to run the flats and escape via the southern route, but by then it was too late.
Navigable water turned skinny, turned ankle deep, turned to wet sand and as the sea slipped away we found a soft run and let the boat settle. Casting decks became picnic plots, then napping platforms. We waded a while, casting casually at what little water was left and watched the mullet skip through the puddles while pipers overran the place. Afternoon faded to evening. Evening slipped towards night. The tides simply turned, slowly, with the rising moon.
But turn, they did, and in time we were gently lifted and pushed along from whence we came, back into the shallow bay. We headed home a bit later than planned.
Frustrating? Yes, but beautiful. The flats are a special place when the sun sets. And without a fish too many, we might have missed it.
Beautiful, but next time we're following the guides.